by Editorial Desk March 14 2023, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 9 mins, 9 secs

The newsdesk at The Daily Eye reports on the preview of the film #SHOUT, hosted by Population First and supported by UNFPA, in partnership with Cine and TV Artistes Association (CINTAA) and One Life Studios, on International Women’s Day 2023. 

Population First and UNFPA in partnership with Cine and TV Artistes Association (CINTAA) and One Life Studios hosted a preview of the documentary film #SHOUT on the occasion of International Women’s Day on 9th March 2023.

The film has been shot through the length and breadth of India and mirrors women’s issues and patriarchy across the many existing social, economic, cultural and caste divides.

Produced by Gayatri Gill, Rahul Kumar Tewary and Siddharth Kumar Tewary, the film is directed by Vinta Nanda. Sandra De Castro Buffington, Co-producer of the Hollywood film Brainwashed, and Ritesh Kaul are the executive producers. The terrific line up of the talent includes Shanti Bhushan Roy (DOP), Puloma Pal (Editor), Biswadeep Dipak Chatterjee (Sound Supervisor), Mohandas VP (Sound Designer), Raja Narayan Deb (Background Score and Song Composer), Usha Uthup (Singer) and Amy Singh (Lyrics).

A feature length documentary film, #SHOUT captures a symphony of voices of Indian women, and men, who navigate India’s feminist history - be it survivors, victims and advocates to the cause of the long battle. The film explores the #MeToo movement, and examines patriarchy through stories, both, past and present - of Roop Kanwar, the nineteen-year-old who burnt herself alive on her husband’s funeral pyre in 1987, the gang rape of Bhanwari Devi in the mid-1990s and the following outrage that led to the implementation of the Vishakha Guidelines in 2014, and the brutal gang-rape and murder of 8-year-old Asifa. Feminist art, literature, music and performances place the issues in context. Justice Sujata Manohar, co-author of the Vishaka Guidelines says in the film, “In India, we live in several centuries, all at the same time.”

Among the impressive line-up of voices are Urvashi Butalia (Founder: Kali for Women), Tara Kaushal (Author: Why Men Rape), Nirupama Dutt (Author: The Ballad of Bant, Journalist, Poet), Mitra Phukan (Author: The Collector’s Wife), Simran Kaur Suri and Mandana Karimi (the most powerful voices of the #Metoo movement), Amit Behl (Actor, General Secretary CINTAA), Ratan Thiyam (Former Director National School of Drama, Founder of The Chorus Repertory Imphal), Preeti Gill (Director Majha House, Publisher), Ravina Raj Kohli (Media Consultant, Former CEO Star News), Retd. Justice Sujata Manohar (Co-author of the Vishakha Guidelines), Namita Bhandare (Independent Journalist of Gender Issues), Bhanwari Devi (Social Worker), Naseema Bibi (Asifa’s mother), Bibi Kiranjot Kaur (Executive Committee member of SGPC), Manisha Mashaal (Director of Maha Dalit Women Andolan), Amy Singh (Activist, Poet), Sandhya Menon (Journalist, voice of the #MeToo movement), Sharada Ramanathan (Filmmaker), Janaki Shreedharan (academic and advocate of women’s issues) and more.

The anthem by one of the first feminists in India’s struggle for women’s equality and inclusion, Usha Uthup, who offered her popularity, as a pop, jazz and playback singer, to the cause in the 1960s and onwards, led the audience to a catharsis.

The preview was followed by a panel discussion and audience interaction. The esteemed panellists were Javed Jaffrey, Lakshmi Iyer, Rukmini Sen, Sapna Bhavnani and Kitu Gidwani. Moderator Dr AL Sharada, Director Population First and Laadli Media Awards, said, “One conversation can make a big difference and the film #SHOUT does exactly that. After the #Metoo movement, girls have felt a lot more secure in the workspace and it has completely changed the perception of men towards sexual harassment”.

Anuja Gulati, Program Management Specialist UNFPA, said that it is up to us women to have a #Metoo movement every year. She added, “Men are victims as well, they need to be educated, their sensibilities need to be aroused because unless men change, nothing will change. Maybe, with this film, we can take the lead”. Actor Javed Jaffrey, the only man on the panel, made it clear that the common man knows the problem and that it’s the system that stalls progress. He ended by saying, “And through this film I hope we can change the system. We need to have an awakening - all we have is an Indian Penal Code, whereas what we need is an Indian Penile Code. The core problem is the implementation of our laws, that’s where the weakness lies and people are getting aware of it. The ‘Woh toh ladka hai… usse toh chalega (he’s a boy, excuse him) mentality’ needs to change”.

Sapna Bhavnani, festival director, filmmaker and activist said she was tired of being called brave when she tells her story. She shook the audience when she added, “If a man comes out and says ‘Hey, I molested a girl’, that’s what should be called brave! What happened to me was not a choice, what the men did was their choice”.

Vinta Nanda, the director of the film said, “#SHOUT has been cathartic for me as a filmmaker and personally. I’m grateful that Gayatri and Siddharth gave this opportunity to me because I could give my soul to a subject so close to me. All women who’ve seen the film so far are going through the same experience that we went through while making the film. The men too are disturbed and feel the urgency for change to happen fast. There’s so much more that we need to do and I hope the film becomes a vehicle that reaches us to the destination where absolute equality is celebrated by everyone”.

“It’s very rare in life to be part of a film that resonates so deeply with your core. #SHOUT is a story that will cement the dreams of our collective tomorrows. Our daughters, our sons the future that we leave behind will be part of this change that we’re talking of making in our today. #SHOUT is an important film to watch not because we’ve produced it but because it’s a film that will change something deep within your soul and you’ll never be the person you once knew again,” is what Gayatri Gill, the producer of the film said to the audience of the panel. And, Siddhartha Kumar Tewary, producer said, “It's about getting to the core, as to why this happens repeatedly to women of all ages across the world? What we truly want to do is to make impact that forces change to take place. And, if we are successful in changing even one individual with this film, we will be very happy with the efforts put, behind telling this story that has resonance with everyone in the world today”.

Rukmini Sen, journalist, writer and filmmaker gave her perspective. She said, “What I really liked about the film was that the Dalit recourse in the case of Bhanwari Devi was repeatedly brought in, because the greatest survivors are the ones that are in the Dalit community. What the #Metoo movement did was to create many anti-sexual harassment committees in the workspace and that is a big achievement. Why do we have these movements? Because we’re documenting what is happening with us, and if you don’t change, we’re going to come for you”.

Actor Kitu Gidwani ended with this: “When you fight for yourself, you are not the problem, the problem is on the opposite side. You don’t need these hashtags, just being able to confront one person is enough to heal you from inside”.

Some of the reactions from the audience of the film’s preview are:

Aparajita Krishna – Author, Writer, Filmmaker 

The film #SHOUT, as a human-interest story told in documentary form, is one of the most powerful and sensitive documentaries of our times in India.

Joy Sengupta – Actor

Even a delayed fight could not keep me away from the screening of Vinta Nanda's very engaging and important spotlight on  sexual abuse, across class and caste lines and across regions, in contemporary India. The film #SHOUT is generously produced by Gayatri Gill, Rahul Tewary and Siddharth Kumar Tewary of One Life Studios. The panel discussion on the implications and reach of the #MeToo movement actually opened up the existing confusion and frustration ailing the space.

Joy Bimal Roy – Filmmaker

It's hard to describe Vinta Nanda's film #SHOUT. Because it has so much to applaud. It is hard-hitting, powerful, searing, moving, lyrical, sensitive, thought-provoking, impactful, well-crafted, well-edited, well-shot and unforgettable. Congratulations Vinta Nanda... so proud of you. It's hard to top this!! 

Salim Asgarally – Transgender Rights Activist, Fashion Designer and Slow Food Specialist

Through stunning visuals and powerful conversations, #SHOUT explores the #genderdebate landscape through the lenses of people, from diverse sociocultural backgrounds, narrating their own personal experiences as well as dissecting culture, media, religion, tradition, politics and conflict. Featuring public opinion through vox pop and performances of poetry, dance and music, the film mirrors the contradictions that Indian women are forced to negotiate. 

Deepa Bhalerao – Social Worker

It was a privilege to witness the preview of this labour of love by the amazing Vinta Nanda, whose fierce honesty and sensitivity bring us the stories, old and contemporary, of women who have endured the unspeakable and have gathered the courage to stand up against the violence. This film is a very important documentation of the people and the incidents that shaped the movement for #womensrights in India. The panel discussion that followed brought out the need for sustaining this dialogue and working towards empowering women to speak up and never take violence from anyone.

Pravesh Sippy – Film Producer

Well done team #SHOUT. The film has a strong message for people. The women featured are really strong - change is inevitable and we are seeing it happen. Lovely!

Sunil Lulla – Media Consultant, Former CEO Sony Entertainment, Times Network and BARC  

A powerful narrative. Need to awaken the larger society and showcase #SHOUT to as many. Well done Vinta Nanda Gayatri Gill, Siddharth Kumar Tewary, Rahul Tewary and team #SHOUT.  

Rukmini Sen – Journalist, Documentary Filmmaker

Vinta Nanda's #SHOUT is her best work. And that's not a small thing considering she created huge shows like Tara. Don't miss this one. A gorgeous feminist documentary, one of its kind. I saw #SHOUT yesterday and found it overwhelming, disturbing, eclectic and breath-taking. Shot beautifully. Excellent sound design. Sharply edited. What I liked the most of course was the feminist politics of the film. It looks at caste and sexual violence at length. It looks at political power and rape closely. See it.. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.

Newsdesk The Daily Eye Preview Film Documentary Film #SHOUT Population First UNFPA Cine and TV Artistes Association (CINTAA) One Life Studios International Women’s Day 2023 Patriarchy Culture Women Women's Empowerment Women's Rights Inclusivity Equality Social Economic Caste Gayatri Gill Rahul Kumar Tewary Siddharth Kumar Tewary Vinta Nanda Shanti Bhushan Roy Puloma Pal Biswadeep Dipak Chatterjee Mohandas VP Raja Narayan Deb Usha Uthup Amy Singh Lyrics Indian women Feminism Feminists Feminist History Survivors Victims Advocates Activists #MeToo movement Roop Kanwar Sati Bhanwari Devi Rape Gang Rape Vishakha Guidelines Asifa Bano Feminist Art Literature Music Performances Authors Retd. Justice Sujata Manohar Urvashi Butalia Kali for Women Tara Kaushal Why Men Rape Nirupama Dutt The Ballad of Bant Journalist Poet Mitra Phukan The Collector’s Wife Simran Kaur Suri Mandana Karimi Amit Behl Ratan Thiyam National School of Drama Chorus Repertory Imphal Preeti Gill Majha House Publisher Ravina Raj Kohli Media Consultant Namita Bhandare Independent Journalist Gender Issues Bhanwari Devi Social Worker Naseema Bibi Bibi Kiranjot Kaur SGPC Manisha Mashaal Maha Dalit Women Andolan Sandhya Menon Sharada Ramanathan Filmmaker Janaki Shreedharan Anthem Jazz Pop Javed Jaffrey Lakshmi Iyer Rukmini Sen Sapna Bhavnani Kitu Gidwani Panel Discussion Dr. AL Sharada Laadli Media Awards Sexual Violence Sexual Harrassment Anuja Gulati Aparajita Krishna Joy Sengupta Joy Bimal Roy Salim Asgarally Transgender Rights Activist Fashion Designer Slow Food Specialist Deepa Bhalerao Pravesh Sippy Sunil Lulla Sony Entertainment Times Network BARC